Coalition parties in Thai gov’t want PM resign to defuse tension

By Xinhua,

Bangkok : Coalition parties of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s People Power Party (PPP) have agreed to ask the prime minister to step down to defuse political tension as a civil revolt appeared out of control after four days of mass protests, media here reported Friday.

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The decision was made at a meeting at the residence of Banharn Silapa-archa, leader of the Chart Thai Party, one of the five coalition partners in the Samak government late Friday evening, according to a report by The Nation website, quoting unnamed sources.

The allies wanted Samak to resign to defuse the crisis but didn’t want him to dissolve the Parliament, the report said.

Banharn was earlier reported to have planned a press conference at 9:00 p.m. (1000GMT), but later canceled it.

The five parties joined with Samak-led PPP to form a coalition government early February after the PPP won almost half of the seats in the House of Representatives in the Dec. 23 general election.

Samak’s resignation means Parliament will have to elect another MP as prime minister.

The present Constitution stipulates that the prime minister must be an elected MP. However, “suspension” of certain constitutional clauses, it is believed, will be enough to pave the way for appointment of a non-MP prime minister if necessary, The Nation report said.

Thousands of PAD-organized protesters on Tuesday launched their “final showdown” against the government, raided a state-run TV station, besieged ministries offices and seized the Government House compound, which they have occupied ever since.

On Friday, confrontations escalated as the protesters clashed with police and managed to take over control of all accesses to the Government House. On the evening they also stormed the city and national police headquarters in Bangkok, demanding the police to hand over policemen who were seen beating protesters in earlier clashes.

The unrest has spread to other provinces as PAD provincial branches mobilized supporters to storm three major tourist hub airports in the South — Hat Yai, Phuket and Krabi international airports, forcing the airport authorities to shut down the airports indefinitely and cancel all flights in and out for now.